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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(caraway), a genus of biennial and perennial herbaceous plants of the family Umbelliferae. The leaves are twice or thrice pinnatisect. The inflorescences are umbels lacking involucres; the flowers are white or pink. The fruit is two-seeded, oval or elongate, and strongly ribbed; upon ripening it splits to form two achenes.

There are about 30 species of caraway, distributed in Europe and Asia. Ten species occur in the USSR. The most commonly cultivated species is C. carvi, a biennial valued for its essential oil. (C. carvi has some annual varieties.) In the first year a fleshy root with a rosette of radical leaves forms. In the second year a smooth, branching stem develops from the root. The stem is 30–80 cm tall and terminates, as do the numerous shoots, in a compound umbel. The fruits contain 3–7 percent essential oils and 18–20 percent fatty industrial oils. The essential oils carvone and limonene obtained from the plant are used in the production of perfume and medicine. The fruits are used as a seasoning in the production of bread, cakes, candies, alcoholic beverages, and various canned goods. The by-products from processing the fruits are used as animal feed. The plants yield a substantial amount of nectar.

The cultivation of caraway was introduced into Europe in the early 19th century. In the 20th century it has been grown in many countries having a temperate climate in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and North Africa. In prerevolutionary Russia it was grown in gardens; fruits for processing were obtained mainly from plants growing wild in Tula and Orel provinces. The first attempts to grow caraway as a field crop in the USSR date to 1929 at the Rostovo-Nakhichevan Experiment Station. As of 1975, plantings of caraway (Khmel’ nitskii variety) were concentrated in Khmel’nitskii Oblast; the crop occupies small areas. Yields reach 15 quintals per hectare. The plant is grown as an intertilled crop.


Efiromaslichnye kul’tury. Edited by A. A. Khotin and G. T. Shul’gin. Moscow, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.